Island Life: Caring For The Cats Of Curacao

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One of the amazing rescue groups that we’ve become familiar with is the Cats of Curacao and the founder, Mariette Hanssen. In 2014, Mariette moved to Curacao, a Dutch Caribbean island about 40 miles north of the Venezuelan coast. You can read her inspiring origin story HERE. 

Once you delve into the world of cat rescuing, you learn just how overwhelming the problem can be. This is something that is evident is many parts of the globe. It’s shows just how important preventative measures like TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return). really are. This one and ONLY sanctuary on the island cares for approximately 150 cats a day!

The life of a cat rescuer NEVER STOPS, especially for the Cats of Curacao. 

From dawn to dusk, and many times in the middle of the night, there are kittens and cats in need of immediate attention. More often than we’d like, these are heartbreaking tales of helpless animals being abandoned. These mistreated souls would not have had a chance to survive if loving humans hadn’t stepped up to help.

And Mariette is one of these dedicated and giving individuals. She was gracious enough to share with us one of these heartwarming stories…

This is the story of a cat named Miracle and her 5 newborn kittens.

In a local neighborhood of the island, there is a large number of feral cats together. One helpful citizen visits each day before work to feed the stray cats and dogs. This caring woman reached out to Mariette for assistance in getting the colony fixed, thereby avoiding having even more mouths to feed! The duo estimated that there were at least 11 cats in the location and set up appointments for sterilization.

But then, on Wednesday, March 7th 2018 around 6 pm, there was a knock on Mariette’s door. The woman stood on the doorstep with “5 newborn kittens, umbilical cords still wet… so they were just hours old ☹ . She told me that on her feeding round, she found these 5 newborns discarded on top of the dumpster in the hot Curacao sun, in a cardboard box”, recalls Mariette.

After finding the newborns, the woman had spoken to a girl on the streets. She’d indicated one of the residents had put the kittens there a few hours before. There had been no mother cat with them. 

Mariette managed to get the kittens to a foster who “knows her way around with newborns. She gave them their first bottle of kitten milk replacer. They were very hungry and took the syringe immediately.

She then drove to the site to attempt to find the mother cat. Her heart broke as she knew there may be a desperate mama cat searching for her babies.

She hoped to meet with some residents for information on the mother, but sadly, had no such luck.

Here is the account in Mariette’s own words of her precious cats of Curacao.

This show exactly how much work, heart-wrenching decisions and continuous effort it takes for each of these rescue attempts!

“There was one lady cat… and it looked like she could be the mom. I set a trap and got her. Driving to the vet, we weren’t sure if she already gave birth, so it was crucial that I got her over to the kittens. I drove to the fosters home and we tried to see if mom had any recognition with these newborns … no response; not from the mom and not from the kittens”

I wondered if she still was pregnant…and had to wait until the next day to find out.

I set an appointment to have her spayed. Unfortunately we have to make unpopular choices, with so much animal cruelty on the island. Letting all feral-born kittens come into this world, only means more animal cruelty experienced over here, (from discarding the little ones like trash, stuffing them into plastic bags while still alive, left to suffocate in the hot sun, no food and water, stones being thrown at them, acid being thrown on them). The ferals don’t have a life over here. They are seen as pests ☹

The next day, I got a wonderful surprise! The vet who operated on her, told me she HAD babies, 1 or 2 days ago… So it looked like we DID find mom!

Now for the tricky part: Since mom didn’t show any sign of recognition when I brought her over to the kittens… Were the babies taken from her, before she could bond with them? Was she still going to accept the little ones? It already had been 1-2 days since she gave birth; time was ticking! She still had a lot of milk… and it would be better for her if she had babies to nurse.

After talking to the vet, we decided to get the babies and try to reunite them with their mom under close supervision.

Since mom was still under anesthetic from the surgery, there was a chance the babies would get some in the milk, but it was a risk we were willing to take. Newborns have a way better chance of survival, when fed by their mom. We, as rescuers do our best to provide a similar care, but mom’s milk is just the best to get the necessary antibodies, and moms warm fur and smell on their little noses and faces is much more reassuring then any human mom can replace.

Calls were made to pick the kittens up at the fosters house and mom and babies were moved to an enclosure at the sanctuary. Here they were rubbed against the mom to get her scent again and then placed on her nipples, so they could drink. They all did!!

I stayed with mom and the little ones the remaining day… to make sure nothing strange was going to happen. When mom woke up, she looked over to them and was fine with the little ones being there!!

I closely monitored her and the babies for the next days and nights, as there still would be a possibility for mom, to abandon the little ones. That would mean, getting the little ones out of the enclosure again and start bottle-feeding again ☹

FORTUNATELY mom (I called her Miracle) is being THE BEST MOM EVER!!!

She nurses and cleans the babies, hardly leaves them to eat, drink and poop… and guards them like a good mom should!”

Mom and her babies

Mom and her babies.. sundaymorning 7.30 AM <3. She is reluctant to leave them…. (can't blame her! she doesn't want them to be taken away a second time!) … She is okay with me changing towels and picking the little ones up, and even is okay with me petting her (Remember, she was feral until 2 days ago! ) Sooooo Successtory nr.. ????

Posted by Cats of Curacao on Sunday, March 11, 2018

These babies are now facing a bright future as the newest Cats of Curacao.

Mom is taking care of them and Mariette and team are taking care of mom. The little ones will be put up for adoption as soon as they are old enough. Hopefully a caring family considers adopting mom too =) 

Want to know more about the work with the cats on the island of Curacao?
Get in touch with them online, or in person @ the sanctuary!

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Check out the Cole & Marmalade store where a portion of the proceeds goes into the “CaM Fund”. This is donated to rescue groups such as the Cats of Curacao who received $500.00 from your purrchases! — CLICK HERE

In 2017, we donated to help Mariette and her mission to save cats too!


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Related Story: Importance Differences Between Stray And Feral Cats–And How You Can Help!

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